Getting Started With Keyboard Maestro

Before getting on board with a tool like Keyboard Maestro, it's common to say, "I don't have anything to automate." Actually, working on automation is the old chicken and egg scenario. You don't have an automation tool because you aren't working on automation. However, you aren't working on automation because you don't have an automation tool.

You need to look at it from a different angle. I'm sure you've had this experience, you only notice how many blue cars are on the road right after you buy one. The same is true for automation. Once you have the right tool, you see all the ways it can be used. You notice the repetitive tasks. You see this is the third time you've done this job. Each week you clean out the Download folder the same way. There are multiple tasks to be automated.

Automation macros don't have to be grand programs. They can be simple, one hit wonders. In fact, those are best.

They don't need to contain elaborate decision making trees to handle a dozen scenarios. Rather, write a dozen small scripts to accomplish a single task. Use them weekly, or daily. When they are effective, you are saving time.

Some great script ideas are:

  • Building a workflow to launch applications
  • Build a consistent folder structure
  • Move files based on filename or extension
  • Delete files of a certain size or with a certain name
  • Rename groups of files
  • Trigger actions based on mouse button clicks

When working with Keyboard Maestro, the more macros you write, the easier it is to write macros. Even for a simple task, writing a macro takes less time than doing the task by hand. This is especially true for copy/paste jobs. I needed to copy dozens of pieces of text, then append them together. I quickly wrote a Keyboard Maestro macro to do the work for me. It saved time, plus kept the total tedium of the process at bay.

I'm now at the point of looking for ways to use Keyboard Maestro. I repeatedly ask, "How long will this take? Should this be a macro? Will I need to do this again at some point?" If that last question is a yes, I'm absolutely writing a macro.

Macros don't have to be perfect. I often spend a little time each weekend refining my "brute force" macros from the work week with better logic and capabilities. This refactoring takes less time each week.

The more simple macros I write, the better and more complex the macros can be later because I have a library of examples available. I can take a macro to add tags to files, then combine it with a macro to loop through a folder of files.

Especially now, there is always room for improvement in your daily workflow. Automation and Keyboard Maestro are a step in that direction.

Small macros save large amounts of time.
Small macros make work more efficient.
Small macros make light work of big tasks.

Then again, I could be wrong.

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